How to Build an App Marketplace: Your Complete Guide
Jun 22, 2023
In the B2B SaaS industry, technology partnerships are becoming increasingly crucial for successful go-to-market strategies. These partnerships offer numerous benefits, such as increased customer adoption and enhanced product functionality.
Promoting your technology partnerships to both customers and prospects is essential, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by creating an app marketplace. An app marketplace serves as a central repository, listing your entire technology partner ecosystem.
If you have a growing technology ecosystem, it may be time to consider building an app marketplace. However, there are various approaches to constructing one, so it's important to choose the method that best suits your needs.
In this blog post, we will explore the different ways to build an app marketplace, including utilizing your own in-house team, outsourcing the project to overseas professionals, or investing in an app marketplace software solution. We will provide a comprehensive breakdown of the pros and cons associated with each method, offering valuable insights to help you decide on the most suitable approach for building your app marketplace.
Let's get started…
What is an app marketplace
If you're reading this blog post, chances are you already have a general understanding of what an app marketplace is. However, for those who may still be unsure, let's take a moment to clarify the concept of an app marketplace.
An app marketplace is a centralized platform that enables users to discover, compare, purchase and install apps or integrations directly from the marketplace. It usually provides a seamless user experience, with features like ratings, reviews, and advanced search filters to help users find the most suitable app or integration. This differs from a partner directory, whereby your integrations are simply listed usually without the ability to directly install or purchase from the directory itself.
An app marketplace is a centralized platform that enables users to discover, compare, purchase and install apps or integrations directly from the marketplace.
In-house development of an app marketplace
One option for building an app marketplace is to leverage your own internal resources to create the solution.
When considering this approach, your first step should be to consult with whoever owns the product and customer facing site to assess the resources you have at your disposal. Typically this is your head of product and product marketing resource.
As mentioned earlier in this blog post, constructing an app marketplace is a substantial undertaking, requiring the dedicated efforts of members of your product, product marketing, web and IT team in order to successfully build and launch the platform.
Positives of using in-house development
The first major benefit of using your own in-house resources to build an app marketplace is the degree of control you have over the project. Coordinating with your internal team members allows you to effectively manage the marketplace build and ensure that factors like project budget and timeline are adhered to.
Another significant benefit of building an app marketplace in-house is the level of customization you can add. By running the project yourself, you can work with your developers to create a solution tailored to your technology partners, even designing specific icons and features that align with your company's brand.
The final major benefit of building your app marketplace in-house is the improved communication and collaboration that comes with working with your internal teams. Utilizing the same tools and technologies for communication, such as video conferencing and instant messaging platforms, makes communication much easier. Moreover, working in similar time zones and having access to team members' calendars enable swift collaboration and coordination.
Negatives of using in-house development
While there are advantages to using in-house development for building your app marketplace, it's important to consider the drawbacks as well.
One major disadvantage is the limited availability of your internal development team. B2B SaaS company product teams are often preoccupied with core product development, making it challenging to allocate time for building an app marketplace. As a result, your developers might only dedicate a limited amount of time to the project, leading to a prolonged development cycle.
If you manage to assign a dedicated developer for the app marketplace, you need to consider the associated costs. In-house developers tend to have high hourly rates, which can significantly impact the overall cost of building and maintaining the app marketplace.
Finally, one potential drawback of relying on in-house developers for your app marketplace is the financial burden and effort involved in ongoing maintenance and updates.
Given the dynamic nature of app marketplaces, regular updates are essential. However, considering that your internal teams may have shifted their focus to other projects, incorporating major updates like adding new partners may be relegated to a backlog and only prioritized when your developers have availability. This delay can result in a less-than-optimal experience for your partners and could potentially frustrate your development team.
Outsourced app marketplace development
Another popular approach to constructing an app marketplace is by engaging an outsourced development company for the task.
Outsourced developers typically hail from different countries, offering a combination of strong technical expertise and lower hourly rates, which makes this option cost-effective. However, similar to the in-house development method described earlier, there are both advantages and drawbacks associated with choosing this route.
Positives of outsourcing app marketplace build
One of the primary advantages of hiring an outsourced development company to construct your app marketplace is the significant cost savings you can achieve through this approach. When working with outsourced development firms, you can typically find highly skilled developers at a fraction of the cost of your in-house developers. These cost savings are not limited to the initial project cost but also extend to the ongoing maintenance and development of the marketplace.
Engaging an outsourced development company offers several advantages, including the assurance of a well-defined project timeline and prompt delivery of your app marketplace. When working with outsourced developers, there is a clear incentive for them to adhere to the agreed project timeline as they are typically paid upon project completion. This financial motivation increases the likelihood of timely delivery, ensuring that your app marketplace is completed within the expected timeframe.
Additionally, collaborating with outsourced developers grants you the flexibility to select individuals with the specific skill sets and expertise required for your project. As developers often specialize in particular areas, you have the opportunity to find outsourced developers who possess prior experience and proficiency in building app marketplaces. This specialization can significantly contribute to the successful execution of your project, as these developers bring valuable insights and best practices gained from their previous marketplace development endeavors.
This existing experience means they are more likely to grasp the project's scope and deliver a solution in a shorter time frame.
Negatives of outsourcing app development build
While outsourcing the development of your app marketplace offers several benefits, it's important to consider the potential drawbacks as well.
The first disadvantage arises from the fact that outsourced developers are often located in countries outside of where your company is based. This difference in time zones can make it difficult to schedule meetings and check on the project's progress, potentially causing frustration during the app marketplace development process. Moreover, using outsourced developers can limit your ability to customize the app marketplace to the extent you could with in-house development.
When working with an outsourced development company, you typically provide a project requirements list and leave the final solution up to them. Although there might be opportunities to suggest changes, the overall creative direction is usually determined by the outsourced development team, causing you to lose some control over the project.
Another potential issue when using an outsourced development team to build your app marketplace is the data security risk associated with it. If your company is security-conscious, you must ensure that the outsourced team adheres to the same stringent security protocols to protect sensitive information and intellectual property.
Unlike using an in-house team, there may be a need for an in-depth security review before starting the project, ensuring that the outsourced team meets your security requirements.
This additional step could delay the project's commencement, which is another drawback to consider.
The final disadvantage of outsourcing your app marketplace development is the ongoing change requests that are sure to happen as a result of building your app marketplace. The simple addition of a new partner might take weeks to execute. Partners will request copy changes, features added/removed, or promotions to be swapped. All of these can create backlogs and become costly.
If you have outsourced development then any minor change that happens inside the platform needs to be diverted to your outside development team to make these changes. This involves a certain amount of effort on your part in addition to incurring ongoing fees as more partners are added into your marketplace.
Using app marketplace software
The final option to consider when thinking about building an app marketplace is to use app marketplace software.
App marketplace software provides a turnkey way to create a marketplace in minutes. There are many options when it comes to app marketplace software such as using our fee app marketplace solution here at Pronto.
As with the other methods above, there are positives and negatives of using app marketplace software.
Positives of app marketplace software
One significant advantage of considering app marketplace software is the combination of low cost and rapid deployment for your app marketplace.
Utilizing app marketplace software allows you to launch your marketplace quickly and at a much lower cost compared to both outsourced and in-house development alternatives. Take, for example, the app marketplace solution offered by Pronto. You can create an app marketplace for free within minutes, ensuring a speedy and efficient deployment.
Moreover, we previously discussed the ongoing development costs involved in app marketplace creation, and this is another area where software solutions prove to be more advantageous.
By choosing an app marketplace software, you benefit from regular software updates and fixes, eliminating the need for ongoing maintenance expenses from internal or outsourced teams.
One more significant advantage of utilizing app marketplace software is its inherent ease of updating and managing the platform. With purpose-built solutions, all updates are seamlessly integrated within the software itself, eliminating the need for manual intervention to implement these changes.
Furthermore, each partner gains access to their app marketplace listing, enabling them to make edits and modifications. This capability minimizes the workload for your team, particularly when you have an out-of-the-box solution in place. This ensures that the solution is optimized for an exceptional app marketplace experience. Pronto's turnkey app marketplaces, for example, come equipped with features that add value for both customers and partners.
These features include partner ratings, reviews, and lead capture forms, transforming your app marketplace into the central hub of your technology partner ecosystem.
Negatives of app marketplace software
The first major drawback of app marketplaces is a lack of control over product development.
Although app marketplace software is specifically designed for this purpose, you will be dependent on the software provider's product roadmap when it comes to adding new features and functionality. This reliance on the provider means you may not have the agility to quickly build new features, which can be frustrating.
Another potential drawback of app marketplace software is the limited customization options. While some customization is available with app marketplace software, such as the Venafi app marketplace powered by Pronto, it may not provide the same level of customization achievable through custom-built solutions via internal resources or outsourced developers.
One possibility worth considering is to forego the creation of an app marketplace altogether. In this article, we have explored several approaches to building an app marketplace, each with its own merits and drawbacks. However, all of these approaches require an initial investment to establish a suitable platform.
While choosing not to build an app marketplace may result in initial cost savings, it is important to weigh this short-term benefit against the potential long-term advantages that you could be foregoing.These benefits include enhancing your product's functionality, promoting your technology partners, and driving adoption of your core product by centralizing information.
While choosing not to build an app marketplace may result in initial cost savings, it is important to weigh this short-term benefit against the potential long-term advantages that you could be foregoing.
By deciding not to pursue the development of an app marketplace, you may be foregoing these benefits and missing out on opportunities to improve your overall product offering.
This article has taken you through the long and short of the different methods of building an app marketplace. This is however supposed to be an informative piece that should be used to make the best decision for your business.
Below, you will find a scorecard which details the final rating for a number of important categories, including price, control over app marketplace design, ease to build the solution, ease to maintain the solution and overall ease of coordination to create the solution.
The scorecard uses a 1-3 rating scale, with 3 being the best, and 1 being the worst.
As you can see from the above, there is an outright winner when it comes to app marketplaces and that is the use of app marketplace software.
As highlighted at the beginning of this blog post, app marketplaces play a crucial role in your technology partner strategy, offering numerous benefits to your company and your partner ecosystem.
Throughout this post, we've explored various options for building an app marketplace, including in-house development, outsourcing, and using dedicated app marketplace software. As we alluded to above, the power of app marketplace software is cost effectiveness, coupled with low maintenance whilst also providing the best experience for both your partners and customers.
The power of app marketplace software is cost effectiveness, coupled with low maintenance whilst also providing the best experience for both your partners and customers.
As mentioned earlier, Pronto offers a free turnkey app marketplace solution with impressive features designed to not only showcase your app ecosystem to current customers and prospects but also generate new leads for your partners.